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Date: Wed, 06 Feb 2002 18:10:47 -0500
From: Thomas Bitterman 
Subject: Re: (urth) The Best Introduction to the Mountains

Adam Stephanides wrote:

>on 2/1/02 4:08 PM, Thomas Bitterman at tom@bitterman.net wrote:
>>Michael Straight wrote:
>>>Nor do I think it makes much sense to pull a few quotes from the
>>>Catholic Encyclpedia and think that gives you enables you a complete
>>>understanding of Wolfe's political ideas.
>>Complete, no.  But Wolfe is a dedicated, intellectual Catholic.  It
>>seems prudent to assume that
>>he's read both the Encyclopedia and Aquinas (and agrees with them on
>>such an important
>>matter) until proven otherwise.
>The Catholic intellectual tradition is wide and diverse.  The Catholic
>Encyclopedia may state the "mainstream" position, but that doesn't oblige
>Wolfe to agree with it.  Catholics are obliged to accept papal ex cathedra
>proclamations of dogma, but there aren't too many of those.
The RCC is pretty picky about things that are merely "teachings" but not 
dogma.  Note
the animosity between the Pope and many American Catholics on birth 
control.  Given
Wolfe's conservative nature it seems reasonable to believe he submits to 
most teachings.

>You quoted the Encyclopedia earlier as quoting Aquinas describing a "a
>tyrannical law" as "not being according to reason."  I don't see that the
>rulers of Dorp fall under this definition.  They're corrupt and unjust, but
>probably no worse than the average medieval ruler or lord; and presumably
>Aquinas would not give a definition of tyranny which would justify rebellion
>against most rulers.
That's debatable.  Church-state relationships were hardly cozy during 
the period that Aquinas
wrote.  The fact that most (if not all) medieval rulers were unjust was 
a handy weapon for the
Pope in those fights.

>And when Silkhorn gives reasons for rebellion, he says nothing about
>tyranny.  First he explains it on the grounds of necessity for himself, and
>to keep Beroep and Aanvagen from being ruined; and because the judges are
>corrupt. (181)  Later he tells Capsicum "The judges had taken advantage of
>their [the people of Dorp's] good qualities, and so the judges had to go; if
>I had not removed them, the people themselves would have within a few
>years."  He also says, rejecting the idea of overthrowing Gyrfalcon, that
>New Viron would probably be worse off without him. (275)  Silkhorn's
>criterion, it seems to me, is pragmatic.  If rebellion would make people
>better off, then it's justified; if it wouldn't (which he probably thinks is
>most of the time), then it's not.  I suspect this is Wolfe's criterion as
You give good reasons.  I would view Silk, however, in the role of the 
RCC, not as an
ordinary member of society.  As the representative of the Outsider on 
the Whorl (ie, as
the representative of God on Earth) he holds ultimate decision-making 
power over
whether a government is legitimate or not.  In short (in Whorl terms), 
the theory is
that all government ultimately derives its authority from the Outsider. 
 In most
cases that authority is implicitly granted by the mere fact of the 
authoritiy's existence.
That does not change the fact, however, that the Outsider (or a suitable 
can de-legitimize any authority by withdrawing his support.  Hence, 
Silkhorn is not
bound by the rules against rebellion becuase he is not rebelling.  He is
removing the moral authority underneath the government, making it
tyrannical by fiat, so to speak.



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